4. An-Nisa (The Women)
This sūrah, which has 176 verses, was revealed around the sixth year of the Hijrah. Sūrah An-Nisa (The Women) is the first of two sūrahs that begin with the phrase, “O humankind!” When the Qur’ān is divided into two equal parts, it is the fourth sūrah of the first part, while Sūrah Hajj, the second sūrah that begins with “O humankind!” is the fourth sūrah of the second part. After addressing us in this way, the sūrah draws attention to the origin or beginning of humankind; Sūrah Hajj, in contrast, focuses on the afterlife. Most of the principles that were revealed in order to regulate and govern Muslim civil life are found in this sūrah.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. O humankind! In due reverence for your Lord, keep from disobedience to Him Who created you from a single human self, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them, scattered abroad a multitude of men and women. In due reverence for God, keep from disobedience to Him in Whose name you make demands of one another, and (duly observe) the rights of the wombs (i.e. of kinship, thus observing piety in your relations with God and with human beings). God is ever watchful over you.1
2. Restore their property to the orphans (in your custody, when they come of age), and do not exchange the corrupt for the good (the unlawful for the lawful), nor consume their property by mixing it up with your own. For doing that would be a great crime (whereby you risk the spiritual reward you hope for by caring for them).
3. If you fear that you will not be able to observe their rights with exact fairness when you marry the orphan girls (in your custody), you can marry, from among other women (who are permitted to you in marriage and) who seem good to you, two, or three, or four.2 However, if you fear that (in your marital obligations) you will not be able to observe justice among them, then content yourselves with only one, or the captives that your right hands possess.3 Doing so, it is more likely that you will not act rebelliously.
4. Give to the women (whom you marry) their bridal-due (mahr) willingly and for good (i.e. without expecting a return); however, if of their own accord, they remit any part of it to you, then you are welcome to enjoy it gladly.
5. Do not give to those of weak mind your property that God has put in your charge (as a means of support for you and for the needy), but feed and clothe them out of it (especially with the profit you will make by exploiting it), and speak to them kindly and words of honest advice.
6. (Care for and) test the orphans well until they reach the age of marriage. Then, if you find them to be mature of mind, hand over to them their property; and do not consume it by wasteful spending, nor do so in haste, fearing that they will come of age (and so take it over). If the guardian is rich (enough to support himself and his family), let him abstain (from his ward’s property); but if he is poor, let him consume thereof in a just and reasonable manner. When you hand (their property) over to them, let there be witnesses on their behalf. God suffices as One Who reckons and settles the accounts (of His servants).
7. For the male heirs is a share out of what parents and near kindred leave behind, and for the female heirs is a share of what parents and near kindred leave behind, whether it (the inheritance) be little or much – a share ordained by God.4
8. If some from among other relatives (who do not have a legally defined share), and orphans and the destitute, are present at the division (of the inheritance), give them something thereof (for their provision), and speak to them kindly and pleasing words.
9. Let those be anxious (for the rights of the orphans) who, if they (themselves) were to leave behind weak offspring, would be fearful on their account – and let them keep from disobedience to God for fear of His punishment, and let them speak the truth and proper words (in respect of the division of the inheritance and their treatment of the orphans).
10. Surely those who consume the property of orphans wrongfully, certainly they consume a fire in their bellies; and soon they will be roasting in a Blaze (the like of which you have never seen, and the degree of whose intensity none knows except God).
11. God commands you in (the matter of the division of the inheritance among) your children: for the male is the equivalent of the portion of two females. If there are more than two females (with no males), for them is two-thirds of the inheritance; if there is only one, then the half. As for the parents (of the deceased): for each of the two is one-sixth of the inheritance, in case of his having left a child; but if he has left no children and his parents are his only heirs, then for his mother is one-third. If he has (a surviving mother and, together with or without sisters,) two or more (surviving) brothers, then for his mother is one-sixth – (all these commands to be put into effect) after deduction for any bequest he may have made (provided such bequest is in conformity with the relevant teachings of Islam) and any debt (incurred by him) (– first the debt is paid, then the bequest is fulfilled, and then the inheritance is shared). Your parents and your children: you do not know which of them is nearer to you in (bringing you) benefit. This (law of inheritance) is an ordinance from God (that you must absolutely obey). Assuredly, God is All-Knowing (of your affairs and what benefits or harms you), and All-Wise.
12. And for you is a half of what your wives leave behind, if they have no children; but if they have a child, then you shall have one-fourth of what they leave behind – after deduction for any bequest they may have made and any debt (incurred by them). And for them is one-fourth of what you leave behind, if you have no children; but if you have a child, then they shall have one-eighth of what you leave behind – after deduction for any bequest you may have made and any debt (incurred by you). And if a man or a woman has no heir in the direct line, but has a brother or a sister (on the mother’s side), for him or her is one-sixth; but if there are two or more, then they shall be sharers in one-third – after deduction for any bequest that may have been made or debt; neither (bequest or debt) intending harm (to the rights of the heirs, in such ways as declaring fictitious debts or bequeathing more than one-third of one’s estate). A commandment from God. God is All-Knowing (of all your intentions, actions, and outcomes), All-Clement (not hasty to punish the errors of His servants).5
13. These are the bounds set by God. Whoever obeys God and His Messenger (by remaining within these bounds), God will admit him into Gardens through which rivers flow, abiding therein. That is the supreme triumph.
14. But whoever disobeys God and His Messenger and exceeds His bounds, God will admit him into a Fire, to abide therein, and for him is a shameful, humiliating punishment.
15. Such of your women as have committed indecency (unlawful sex), there must be four male witnesses of you who (having seen them in the act) will testify against them (within one succeeding month in towns, and six months in the rural areas). If they do bear witness, then confine those women to their houses until death takes them away or God opens some way for them.
16. When two from among you have committed it, then punish them both by scolding and beating; but if they are remorseful and repent, and make amends, then withdraw from them.6 Assuredly, God is He Who accepts repentance and returns it with liberal forgiveness, All-Compassionate.
17. God’s acceptance of repentance is only for those who commit evil due to an instance of defeat to evil commanding soul, and then (pull themselves together and) repent shortly afterwards. It is they whose repentance God returns with forgiveness; and God is All-Knowing (of what everyone does and why), and All-Wise.
18. But of no avail is the repentance of those who commit evil (for a lifetime) until, when one of them is visited by death, he says, “Indeed, now I repent.” Nor (likewise does the repentance avail) of those who (spend their lives in unbelief and offer to repent just at the time of death, but) die as unbelievers (since such repentance is not acceptable). For such, We have prepared a painful punishment.
19. O you who believe! It is not lawful for you to become inheritors, against their will, of women (of your deceased kinsmen, marrying them against their will, without paying their bridal-due, or forcing them to marry others in return for their bridal-due, as though they were a part of heritable property); nor should you constrain your wives in order to take away anything of what you have given them (as bridal-due or bridal gift), unless they be guilty of indecency in an obvious manner (such as to justify divorce). Consort with them in a good manner, for if you are not pleased with them, it may well be that you dislike something but God has set in it much good.
20. But if you still decide to dispense with a wife and marry another, and you have given the former (even so much as amounts to) a treasure, do not take back anything thereof. Would you take it back by slandering (for the purpose of contriving the kind of divorce that allows you to take it back), and so committing a flagrant sin?
21. Then, how could you take it back when you have gone in to each other, and they (the married women) have taken from you a most solemn pledge (of honoring their rights)?
22. And do not marry the women whom your fathers married – except what has happened (of that sort) in the past (before your conversion; such occurrences are forgivable provided you rectify your conduct and terminate any such contract of marriage). This was indeed a shameful deed and hateful thing, and how evil a way!
23. Forbidden to you (O believing men) are your mothers (including stepmothers and grandmothers) and daughters (including granddaughters), your sisters (including full sisters and half-sisters), your aunts paternal and maternal, your brothers’ daughters, your sisters’ daughters, your mothers who have given suck to you, your milk-sisters (all those as closely related to you through milk as through descent7), your wives’ mothers, your stepdaughters – who are your foster-children, born of your wives with whom you have consummated marriage; but if you have not consummated marriage with them, there will be no blame on you (should you marry their daughters) – and the spouses of your sons who are of your loins, and to take two sisters together in marriage (including a niece and her aunt, maternal or paternal)8 – except what has happened (of that sort) in the past. Surely God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
24. And (also forbidden to you are) all married women, save those (captives) whom your right hands possess (and whose ties with their husbands have practically been cut off). This is God’s decree, binding upon you. Lawful for you are all beyond those mentioned, that you may seek, offering them of your wealth, taking them in sound chastity (i.e. in marriage), and not in licentiousness. And whomever of them you seek to enjoy in marriage (under these conditions), give them their bridal-due as a duty. But there is no blame on you for what you do by mutual agreement after the duty (has been done). Assuredly, God is All-Knowing (of what you do and why), and All-Wise.
25. If any of you cannot afford to marry free, believing women, (let them marry) believing maidens from among those whom your right hands possess. (Do not regard marriage to such believing maidens as a degradation. Rather, degradation is deviating into licentiousness without marrying.) God knows well all about your faith (and measures you by it); and (whether you be free or slaves) you are one from another (belonging, as believers, to the same faith and community). Marry them, then, with the leave of their guardians, and give them their bridal-due according to religiously lawful and customary good practice, they being women who give themselves in honest chastity, not in licentiousness, nor having secret love-companions.9 Then if they commit indecency after they have entered into wedlock, they shall be liable to half the penalty to which free (unmarried) women are liable. That (permission to marry slave-girls) is for those of you who fear to fall into sin (by remaining unmarried). But if you persevere (in self-restraint with no fear of falling into sin), that is better for you. And God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
26. God wills to explain to you (His commandments in which your happiness lie), and to guide you to the (righteous) ways of life of those who preceded you, and to turn to you (with mercy and favor). God is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
27. God wills to turn to you (with mercy and favor by explaining to you His commandments and guiding you to the Straight Path), whereas those who follow (their) lusts (for women, offspring, wealth, fame, status, and position) desire you to deviate greatly (from the Straight Path).
28. God wills to lighten for you (your burdens), for human has been created weak (liable to err).10
29. O you who believe! Do not consume one another’s wealth in wrongful ways (such as theft, extortion, bribery, usury, and gambling), except it be dealing by mutual agreement; and do not destroy yourselves (individually or collectively by following wrongful ways like extreme asceticism and idleness. Be ever mindful that) God has surely been All-Compassionate toward you (particularly as believers).
30. Whoever acts wrongfully through enmity (toward others) and by way of deliberate transgression and wronging (both himself and others), We will surely land him in a Fire to roast therein (the like of which you have never seen, and the degree of whose intensity none knows except God); that indeed is easy for God.
31. If you avoid the major sins11 which you have been forbidden, We will blot out from you your minor evil deeds and make you enter by a noble entrance (to an abode of glory).
32. (People differ from each other in capacity and means of livelihood, and it is not in your hands to be born male or female. Therefore) do not covet that in which God has made some of you excel others (thus envying others in such things as status or wealth, or physical charms, and so objecting to God’s distribution). Men shall have a share according to what they have earned (in both material and spiritual terms), and women shall have a share according to what they have earned. (On the other hand, do not refuse effort and aspiration; instead of envying others,) ask God (to give you more) of His bounty (through lawful labor and through prayer). Assuredly, God has full knowledge of everything.
33. And to everyone, We have appointed heirs to what the parents and near kindred might leave behind. (As those heirs have defined portions in the inheritance that must be given them,) so to those with whom you have made a solemn covenant, give them their due share. God is indeed a witness over everything.
34. Men (those who are able to carry out their responsibilities) are the protectors and maintainers of women inasmuch as God has endowed some of people (in some respects) with greater capacity than others, and inasmuch as they (the men) spend of their wealth (for the family’s maintenance). Good, righteous women are the devoted ones (to God) and observant (of their husbands’ rights), who guard the secrets (family honor and property, their chastity, and their husband’s rights, especially where there is none to see them, and in the absence of men,) as God guards and keeps undisclosed (what should be guarded and private). As for those women from whose determined disobedience and breach of their marital obligations you have reason to fear, admonish them (to do what is right); then, (if that proves to be of no avail), remain apart from them in beds; then (if that too proves to be of no avail), beat them lightly (without beating them in their faces). Then, if they obey you (in your directing them to observe God’s rights and their marital obligations), do not seek ways against them (to harm them). (Be ever mindful that) God is indeed All-Exalted, All-Great.12
35. And if you fear that a breach might occur between a couple, appoint an arbiter from among his people and an arbiter from among her people. If they both want to set things aright, God will bring about reconciliation between them. Assuredly, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.
36. And (as the essential basis of contentment in individual, family and social life,) worship God and do not associate anything as a partner with Him; and do good to your parents in the best way possible, and to the relatives, orphans, the destitute, the neighbor who is near (in kinship, location, faith), the neighbor who is distant (in kinship and faith), the companion by your side (on the way, in the family, in the workplace, etc.), the wayfarer, and those who are in your service. (Treat them well and bring yourself up to this end, for) God does not love those who are conceited and boastful;
37. Those who act meanly (in spending out of what God has granted them) and urge others to be mean, and conceal the things God has granted them out of His bounty (such as wealth or knowledge, and certain truths in their Book). We have prepared for (such) unbelievers a shameful, humiliating punishment.
38. And (likewise) those who spend their wealth (in charity or other good cause) to make a show of it to people (so as to be praised by them) when they believe neither in God nor in the Last Day: Whoever has Satan for a comrade, how evil a comrade he is!
39. Why, what (harm) would fall upon them, if they believed in God and the Last Day, and spent out of what God has provided for them (purely for the pleasure of God), and God has full knowledge of them (of what they believe in and what they spend)?
40. Assuredly, God wrongs (no one) not even so much as an atom’s weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it (with respect to its outcomes and the reward it will bring), and grants (its doer) a tremendous reward purely from His Presence (beyond what it may have merited).
41. How, then, will it be (with people on the Day of Judgment) when We bring forward a witness from every community (to testify against them and that God’s Religion was communicated to them), and bring you (O Messenger) as a witness against all those (whom your Message may have reached)?
42. On that Day, those who disbelieved (in this life and died in unbelief) and disobeyed the Messenger wish that the earth might be leveled with them (so as to leave no trace or record of them); but they will not be able to conceal from God any telling (of what they said or did).
43. O you who believe! Do not come forward to (stand in) the Prayer while you are in (any sort of) a state of drunkenness until you know what you are saying, nor while you are in the state of ritual impurity (requiring the total ablution) – save when you are on a journey (and then unable to bathe) – until you have bathed (done the total ablution). But if you are ill or on a journey, or if any of you has just satisfied a call of nature, or you have had contact with women, and can find no water, then betake yourselves to pure earth, passing with it lightly over your face and hands (and forearms up to and including the elbows). Surely God is One Who grants remission, All-Forgiving.
44. Do you not see and reflect upon those who were given a portion from the Book? They are occupied with buying straying, and desire that you, too, should stray from the (right) way.
45. (O believers!) God knows best who your enemies are; and God suffices as Guardian and Protecting Friend, and God suffices as Helper.
46. Among those who have become Jews (Judaized) are some who alter the words from their context to distort their meanings, and say: “We have heard and we disobey,” and, “Do hear us, may you turn dumb,” (while pretending to say, “Will you hearken to us, O respected one!”), and “Listen to us! May you become deaf, O Shepherd!” (while pretending to say, “Attend to us!”) – thus making a malicious play with their tongues and seeking to revile the (True) Religion. Had they but said, “We have heard and we obey,” and “Listen to us,” and “Favor us with your attention!”, it would indeed have been for their own good, and more upright. But God has excluded them from His mercy because of their (willful, persistent) unbelief, and, but for a few, scarcely do they believe.
47. O you who were given the Book (before)! Believe (sincerely) in (the whole of) what We have been sending down (on Muhammad), confirming what (of the truth) you already possess, before We obliterate faces so as to deprive them of seeing, hearing, speaking and smelling, or exclude them from Our mercy as We excluded the Sabbath-breakers. (Bear in mind that) God’s command is always executed.
48. Assuredly, God does not forgive that partners be associated with Him; less than that, He forgives to whomever He wills (whomever He has guided to repentance and righteousness, either out of His pure grace or as a result of the person’s choosing repentance and righteousness by his free will). Whoever associates any partner with God has indeed fabricated a most heinous sin.
49. Do you (O Messenger) not consider those who regard themselves pure and sanctified? No! Rather, it is God Who makes pure and sanctifies whomever He wills (considering the free will of each), and none is wronged even by as much as a tiny hair.
50. Look! How they fabricate falsehood in attribution to God; and that suffices for a flagrant sin (to lead them to their perdition).
51. Do you not consider those who were given a portion of the Book, how they believe in any false deity and all manner of powers of evil (who institute patterns of faith and rule in defiance of God), and say about those (idolaters) who disbelieve that they are more rightly guided (in the way they follow) than those who believe?
52. Such are the ones whom God has excluded from His mercy, and he whom God excludes from His mercy, you shall never find one to help and save him.
53. Or do they have a share in the sovereignty (absolute ownership and dominion of the heavens and the earth, so that they claim some privileged position in God’s sight and a right to guidance, Prophethood, and rule on the earth)? If that were so, they would not give people even as much as (would fill) the groove of a date-stone.
54. Or do they envy others for what God granted them out of His grace and bounty? Yet We did grant the Family of Abraham (including the progeny of Ishmael proceeding from him, as well as that of Isaac) the Book and the Wisdom, and We granted them a mighty kingdom (in both the material and spiritual realm).
55. Among them (those belonging to Abraham’s progeny) have been and are such as truly believe in him (and, therefore, they believe in Muhammad, who has the best claim to a relationship with Abraham, and believe in the Qur’an revealed to him), and among them are such as bar people from him (like some from among those who were given the Book before). (For the latter,) Hell suffices for a blaze.
56. Those who (knowingly) conceal and reject Our Revelations, We will land them in a Fire to roast there. Every time their skins are burnt off, We will replace them with other skins, that they may taste the punishment. Assuredly, God is All-Glorious with irresistible might, All-Wise.
57. But those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, We will admit them into the Gardens through which rivers flow, therein abiding for ever. Therein for them will be spouses purified, and We will admit them to an all-protecting shade (ease and contentment).
58. God commands you to deliver trusts (including public and professional duties of service) to those entitled to them; and when you judge between people, to judge with justice. How excellent is what God exhorts you to do. Surely God is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
59. O you who believe! Obey God and obey the Messenger, and those from among you who are invested with authority; and if you are to dispute among yourselves about anything, refer it to God and the Messenger, if indeed you believe in God and the Last Day. This is the best (for you), and fairest in the end.13
60. Do you not consider those who assert that they believe in what has been sent down to you and what was sent before you, and yet desire to go for judgment in their disputes to (the rule of) the powers of evil (who institute patterns of rule in defiance of God), when they were expressly commanded to reject it.14 Truly, Satan desires to lead them far astray.
61. When they were told: “Come to that which God has sent down and to the Messenger (and submit to God’s judgment),” you see the hypocrites turn away from you with disgust.
62. But how then, when a disaster befalls them because of what they have forwarded with their own hands (to their future), they come to you, swearing by God and say: “We intended only goodwill and conciliation!”
63. Such are the ones – God knows what is in their hearts; so withdraw from them (do not care what they say and do), and (continue to) admonish them, and say to them profound words touching their very souls.
64. (Everyone should know well that) We have never sent a Messenger but that he should be obeyed by God’s leave. If, when they wronged themselves (by committing a sin), they but came to you and implored God to forgive them – with the Messenger praying to God for their forgiveness – they would find that God is One Who returns the repentance of His servants with liberal forgiveness and additional reward, and All-Compassionate.
65. But no! By your Lord, they do not (truly) believe unless they make you the judge regarding any dispute between them, and then find not the least vexation within themselves over what you have decided, and surrender in full submission.15
66. If We were to ordain for them, “Lay down your lives (in God’s cause, so that you may be purified of your sins)” or “Leave your habitations (that you have contaminated with your sins, and emigrate to another land in God’s cause),” they would not do that save a few of them. But if they had done what was urged upon them (before things had come to this point) – if only they would do it from now on – it would indeed have been (and would be) for their own good and (more apt for them) to be more securely established (in the land).16
67. And then, We would surely have granted them from Our Presence a tremendous reward;
68. And indeed guided them to a straight path (in belief, thought, feeling and action).
69. Whoever obeys God and the Messenger (as they must be obeyed), then those are (and in the Hereafter will be, in Paradise) in the company of those whom God has favored (with the perfect guidance) – the Prophets, and the truthful ones (loyal to God’s cause and truthful in whatever they do and say), and the witnesses (those who see the hidden Divine truths and testify thereto with their lives), and the righteous ones (in all their deeds and sayings, and dedicated to setting everything right). How excellent they are for companions! 17
70. Such is the grace that is from God, and God suffices as One All-Knowing (of how great that grace is, who deserves it, and the rank of those favored with it).
71. O you who believe! (While such great grace is there) be fully prepared, then (as circumstance demands) either go forward in (small) consolidated groups (on military expeditions), or go forward all together.
72. There are indeed among you such as him who lags behind. Then, if a disaster befalls you, he says: “Indeed God bestowed His favor upon me that I was not present with them.”
73. But if some bounty from God comes to you, he is sure to say – just as if there had never been any tie of affection between you and him (and, therefore, as if there had been an obstacle to his going forth with you), “Oh, if only I had been with them, I would have come by a great gain.”
74. So let those who trade the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in God’s cause. Whoever fights in God’s cause, whether he is killed or victorious, We will grant him a tremendous reward.
75. Why, then, should you not fight in the cause of God and of the oppressed, helpless men, women, and children, who cry out: “O Lord! Bring us out of this land whose people are oppressors, and appoint for us from Your Presence a protector, and appoint for us from Your Presence a helper!”
76. Those who (truly) believe fight in God’s cause, while those who disbelieve fight in the cause of tāghūt (powers of evil who institute patterns of rule in defiance of God). So (O believers), fight against the friends and allies of Satan. Assuredly, Satan’s guile is ever-feeble.
77. Do you not consider those who were told, “Restrain your hands (from war and similar endeavor), and do the Prayer in conformity with all its conditions, and pay the Prescribed Purifying Alms” (at which time they insistently asked you when they would be allowed to fight)? But as the time has come and fighting has been ordained for them, a party among them fear people as one should fear God, or with even greater fear, and say: “O Lord! Why have you ordained fighting for us? If only You had granted us a little more respite!” Say (to them, O Messenger): “The enjoyment of the world is short-lived, whereas the Hereafter is the best for him who keeps from disobedience to God, in reverence for Him and piety, and you will not be wronged by so much as a tiny hair.”
78. Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even though you be in towers built up strong and high. Yet, when some good happens to them, they say: “This is from God.” And when an evil befalls them, they say: “This is because of you.” Say: “All is from God.” But how is it with these people that they do not grasp the truth of anything said (or anything that has happened)!
79. (O human being!) Whatever good happens to you, it is from God; and whatever evil befalls you, it is from yourself. We have sent you (O Messenger) to humankind as a Messenger, and God suffices for a witness.18
80. He who obeys the Messenger (thereby) obeys God, and he who turns away from him (and his way), (do not be grieved, O Messenger, for) We have not sent you as a keeper and watcher over them (to prevent their misdeeds and be accountable for them).
81. They say (when in your presence, to every command of yours), “By all means!” But when they leave your presence, a party of them make secret plans against what you say. God records whatever secret plans they make. So withdraw from them, and put your trust in God. God suffices as the One to be relied on, to Whom affairs should be referred.
82. Do they not contemplate the Qur’an (so that they may be convinced that it is from God)? Had it been from any other than God, they would surely have found in it much (incoherence or) inconsistency.19
83. Whenever any news comes to them, related to (public) security or alarm, they go about spreading it (without ascertaining if the news is true or not, and without thinking about whether it is beneficial or harmful to spread it). Whereas if they would but refer it to the Messenger and to those among them (in the community) who are entrusted with authority, those from among them who are competent to investigate it would bring to light what it is really about. (O believers!) Save for God’s grace and mercy upon you (in illuminating your way and guiding you with Revelation and His Messenger, and protecting you against your enemies and wrong ways), all but a few (of you) would have been (deceived by the hypocrites and) following Satan.
84. Fight (therefore, O Messenger) in God’s cause – for (in the same way that every individual is responsible for himself) you are (first of all) responsible for none except yourself. (Even left by yourself alone, fulfill your responsibility) – and urge on the believers (to take their responsibility). It may be that God will (thereby) restrain the force of those who disbelieve. Indeed God is strongest in might, and strongest in repressing and punishing.20
85. Whoever intercedes, mediates or helps for a good cause will have a share in its blessings, and whoever intercedes, mediates or helps for an evil cause shares in its burden. God has full watch over all things.
86. When (whether traveling or at home, or in war or at peace) you are greeted with a greeting (of peace and goodwill), answer with one better, or (at least) with the same. Surely God keeps account of all things.
87. God, there is no deity but He. He will gather you all together on the Day of Resurrection, about (the coming of) which there is no doubt. Who can be truer in statement than God?
88. (O believers!) How is it with you that you are in two groups regarding the hypocrites (from Makkah, and other tribes who claim to be Muslims yet take part in the hostile machinations of their people against you), seeing that God has thrown them back (to unbelief) on account of what they have earned (by their sins)? Do you seek to guide him whom God has led astray? Whoever God has led astray, for him you cannot find a (safe) way (to follow).
89. They yearn that you should disbelieve just as they disbelieved, so that you might be all alike. Do not, therefore, take from among them confidants and allies until they emigrate (to Madīnah and join you) in God’s cause. But if they turn away (from this call and continue their hostility against you), seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and do not take to yourselves any of them as confidant, nor as helper.21
90. Except those who seek refuge in a people between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace or alliance), or (those who) come to you with hearts shrinking from fighting against you, as well as fighting against their own people. Had God willed, He would certainly have given them power over you and they would have fought against you. If they withdraw from you and do not fight against you, and offer you peace, then God allows you no way (to war) against them.
91. You will find others who wish to be secure from you (by signing a treaty with you) and to be secure from their people (by breaking their treaty with you and joining them): every time they are called back to conspiracy and hostility against you, they plunge into it headlong. Hence, if they do not withdraw from you, nor offer you peace, nor restrain their hands (from hurting you), then seize them and kill them wherever you come upon them. It is against such that We have given you a clear sanction.
92. Yet (be circumspect), it is not for a believer to kill another believer unless it be by mistake. He who has killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave, and pay blood-money to his family (legal heirs), unless they forgo it as a freewill offering. If he (the victim), while himself a believer, belonged to a people hostile to you (between whom and you there is no treaty), then (the expiation is to) set free a believing slave. If he (the victim) belonged to a (non-Muslim) people between whom and you there is a treaty, then (the expiation is to) pay blood-money to his heirs, and to set free a believing slave. But he who has no means (to make such expiation), must fast for two consecutive months – a penance from God (a way of repentance).22 God is All-Knowing (of everything, including what is in your bosoms), All-Wise.
93. Whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense (in the Hereafter) is Hell, therein to abide; and God has utterly condemned him, excluded him from His mercy, and prepared for him a tremendous punishment.
94. O you who believe! When you go forth (to war) in God’s cause, investigate with care until the situation becomes fully clear to you, and do not say to anyone who offers you (the greeting of) peace (thereby indicating his being a Muslim), “You are not a believer,” seeking the fleeting gains of the present, worldly life; for with God are gains abundant. Even thus (as he now is) were you before (ignorant of faith and what being a Muslim is, and you, too, entered Islam with a similar word); but God has since then been gracious to you. So investigate with care until the situation becomes fully clear to you. Surely God is fully aware of all that you do.
95. Not equal are those of the believers who (when not all believers are required to mobilize for God’s cause) sit still without justifiable excuse (and without doing any harm to God’s cause) and those who strive (and fight) in God’s cause with their wealth and their persons. God has exalted in rank those who strive with their wealth and their persons over those who sit still. To each, God has promised the best reward (Paradise), and yet God has exalted those who strive over those who sit still by a tremendous reward.
96. For them are ranks from Him (differing according to the degree of the sincerity and striving of each), and forgiveness and mercy (to bring unforeseen blessings). God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
97. As to those whose souls the angels (charged with taking the souls of people) take in the state of wronging themselves (by continuing to live in unbelief, without suffering to emigrate to a land where they would be able to attain faith): They (the angels) ask them: “What situation were you in (so that you were not with the believers)?” They say: “We were under such oppression in this land that we could not find a way to faith.” They (the angels) say: “Was God’s earth not wide enough for you to emigrate in it?” Such are those whose refuge is Hell: how evil a destination to arrive at!
98. Except those truly oppressed among the men, and the women, and the children altogether without means and not guided to a way (to emigrate, and including those who, in their lifetime, have not had a means to be guided to faith).
99. For those (while their circumstances are unchanged, it is expected that) God will not hold them accountable and will excuse them. Assuredly God is One Who excuses much, All-Forgiving.
100. Whoever emigrates in God’s cause will find on the earth enough room for refuge and plentiful resources. He who leaves his home as an emigrant to God and His Messenger, and whom death overtakes (while still on the way), his reward is due and sure with God. Assuredly, God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
101. (O believers!) When you go forth on the earth, there is no blame on you that you shorten the (Prescribed) Prayers, if you fear that those who disbelieve might cause you harm (by attacking you). Assuredly, the unbelievers are a manifest enemy to you.
102. When you (O Messenger) are among the believers (who are on an expedition and in fear that the unbelievers might harm them) and stand (to lead) the Prayer for them, let a party of them stand in Prayer with you and retain their arms with them (while the other party maintain their positions against the enemy). When the first party have done the prostrations (finished the rak‘ah), let them go to the rear of your company (and there, hold positions against the enemy), and let the other party who have not prayed come forward and pray with you, being fully prepared against danger and retaining their arms. Those who disbelieve wish that you should be heedless of your weapons and your equipment, so that they might swoop upon you in a single (surprise) attack. But there will be no blame on you if you lay aside your arms (during the Prayer) if you are troubled by rain (and the ground impedes your movement), or if you are ill; however, be fully prepared against danger. Surely God has prepared for the unbelievers a shameful, humiliating punishment.
103. When you have finished the Prayer (especially considering you have shortened your Prayers when journeying and in the state of fear), remember and mention God (with your tongues and hearts), standing and sitting and lying down on your sides (and even while at war). Then, when you are once again secure, do the Prayer in conformity with all its conditions (and do the Prayers you had to omit just at the time of actual fighting).23 (Know that) the Prayer (being the most important kind of worship) is prescribed for the believers at fixed times.24
104. Do not be faint of purpose in pursuing these people (who fight with you, and keep them under pressure as long as the state of war continues between you and them). If you are suffering (having to endure hardships), they, too, are suffering just as you are, but you hope (to receive) from God what they cannot hope for. God is indeed All-Knowing (of the states and conditions of all things), All-Wise.
105. Surely We have sent down to you the Book with the truth (embodying it, with nothing false in it), so that you should judge between people according to how God has shown you. So do not be a pleader on behalf of those who betray their trust.
106. Pray God for forgiveness. Assuredly God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
107. And do not plead on behalf of those who betray themselves (by lying to conceal the truth of the matter brought before you). Surely God does not love whoever betrays trust and persists in sin.
108. They strive to hide (their evil deeds) from people, but they do not strive to hide from God, whereas He is always with them whenever they hold night counsels (and spread false rumors and slanders) displeasing to Him. God indeed encompasses (with His Knowledge, Seeing, Hearing and Power) all that they do.
109. Ah! You (O believers) might well plead on their behalf in the life of this world, but who will plead with God on their behalf on the Day of Resurrection, or who will then be their defender and guardian?
110. Yet, whoever does an evil or wrongs himself (by committing sins to harm himself spiritually), and then implores God for forgiveness, will find God All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
111. Whereas whoever earns a sin (failing to seek forgiveness for it), earns it only against himself (to his own loss only). And God is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
112. And he who earns a wrong or sin, and then throws the blame on an innocent person, has thereby laid upon himself (the additional burden of) a calumny and a flagrant sin.
113. But for God’s grace and favor upon you and His mercy, one party of them determined to mislead you, yet they mislead none but themselves, and cannot harm you in any way. (How could they do so, seeing that) God has sent down on you the Book and the Wisdom, and taught you what you did not know. God’s grace and favor upon you is tremendous indeed.25
114. No good is there in most of their secret counsels except for him who exhorts to a deed of charity, or kind equitable dealings and honest affairs, or setting things right between people. Whoever does that seeking God’s good pleasure, We will grant to him a tremendous reward.
115. While whoever cuts himself off from the Messenger after the guidance (to what is truest and best in thought, belief, and conduct) has become clear to him, and follows a way other than that of the believers (for whom it is impossible to agree unanimously on a way that leads to error), We leave him (to himself) on the way he has turned to, and land him in Hell to roast there: how evil a destination to arrive at!
116. Indeed God does not forgive that partners be associated with Him; less than that He forgives to whomever He wills (whomever He has guided to repentance and righteousness as a result of his choosing repentance and righteousness by his free will). Whoever associates partners with God has indeed strayed far away (from the Straight Path).
117. In His stead, they invoke female deities – (in so doing) they, in fact, invoke none but a haughty, rebellious Satan,26
118. One who is accursed by God (excluded from His mercy). Once he said: “Of Your servants I will surely take a share to be assigned to me (by their following me).
119. “I will surely lead them astray and surely engross them in vain desires (superstitious fancies and false conceptions); and I will surely command them, and they will surely slit the ears of cattle (to mark them out as meant for their idols and as forbidden to themselves to eat, thus making a lawful thing unlawful); and also, I will surely command them, and they will surely alter God’s creation.”27 Whoever takes Satan for a confidant and guardian instead of God has indeed suffered a manifest loss.
120. (In reality, however, Satan has no authority over people against God.) He makes promises to them and fills them with vain desires (superstitious fancies and false conceptions), and what he promises them is nothing but delusion.
121. Such (as those deluded by Satan): their shelter is Hell, and they will find no way to escape from it.
122. As for those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, We will admit them into the Gardens through which rivers flow, therein abiding forever. This is God’s promise in truth. Who can be truer than God in speech?
123. It is not according to your fancies, nor according to the fancies of the People of the Book. (No one has a privilege in God’s sight by virtue of being nominally a Muslim, or Jew, or Christian. Rather, the truth is this:) Whoever does an evil will be recompensed for it, and he will not find for himself, apart from God, a guardian or a helper (to guard or help him against the consequence of that evil).
124. And whoever does deeds of righteousness, whether male or female, and is a (true) believer – such will enter Paradise, and they will not be wronged by even so little as (would fill) the groove of a date-stone.
125. Who is better in religion than he who has submitted his whole being to God (seeking only His good pleasure, as one devoted to) doing good, aware that God is seeing him, and who follows the way (millah) of Abraham being of pure faith (free of unbelief, of associating partners with God and of hypocrisy). God accepted Abraham as a friend (one close and trusted).
126. To God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, and God encompasses everything (with His Knowledge and Power).
127. (O Messenger!) They ask you to pronounce laws concerning women. Answer them: “God pronounces to you the laws concerning them, and it is recited to you in this Book concerning female orphans, to whom you do not give what has been ordained for them (as bridal-due or for their maintenance), and yet desire to marry them (out of greed to get their charms or wealth for yourself, or by refusing to let them marry to continue benefiting from their wealth); and also concerning the weak, helpless children (whose rights should be protected), and that you must be assiduous in observing the rights of orphans.” Whatever good you do – surely God has full knowledge of it.
128. If a woman fears from her husband ill-treatment or (such breach of marital obligations as) his turning away in aversion, then there will be no blame on them to set things right peacefully between them; peaceful settlement is better. (Bear in mind that) human souls are prone to selfish avarice, so (O husbands) if you do good in consciousness of God and act in reverence for Him and piety (in observing the rights of women), then surely God is fully aware of what you do.
129. You will never be able to deal between your wives with absolute equality (in respect of love and emotional attachment), however much you may desire to do so. But do not turn away altogether (from any one of them), so as to leave her in a dangling state (uncertain if she has or does not have a husband). If you act righteously (between them) and act in piety (fearful of doing any deliberate wrong to any of them), then surely God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
130. If (despite every effort to reconcile them, it is no longer possible to sustain marriage, and) the couple do separate, (let neither fear to become poor and helpless, for) God suffices all by His abundance. God is All-Embracing (in His bounty), All-Wise.
131. And to God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And assuredly, We commanded those who were given the Book before you, and (We command) you (O Muslims) to act in piety and reverence for God, fearful of disobedience to Him (in all matters, including especially observing your mutual rights). Yet if you disbelieve (and despite this admonishment, act with ingratitude to Him, then bear in mind that) to God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth: (if you believe in Him and thank Him, this adds nothing to Him, or if you disbelieve in Him and become ungrateful to Him, this does not diminish anything from Him. For) God is All-Wealthy and Self-Sufficient (absolutely independent of all His creatures), All-Praiseworthy (as your Lord, Who provides for you and all other beings and meets all your needs).
132. (Again, know that) to God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth; and God suffices as One on Whom to rely and to Whom all affairs should be referred.
133. If He wills, He can remove you, O humankind, and bring in others in your place. God is entirely able to do that.
134. If one desires the reward of this world, (let him know that) with God is the reward of this world and the Hereafter. God is indeed All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
135. O you who believe! Be upholders and standard-bearers of justice, bearing witness to the truth for God’s sake, even though it be against your own selves, or parents or kindred. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, (bear in mind that) God is nearer to them (than you are and more concerned with their well-being). So do not (in expectation of some gain from the rich or out of misplaced compassion for the poor) follow your own desires lest you swerve from justice. If you distort (the truth) or decline (to bear truthful witness), then know that God is fully aware of all that you do.
136. O you who believe! Believe in God and His Messenger (Muhammad) and the Book He has been sending down on His Messenger in parts, and the (Divine) Books He sent down before. Whoever disbelieves in God, and His angels, and His Books, and His Messengers, and the Last Day, has indeed gone far astray.28
137. Those who have believed and then disbelieved, then believed, and again disbelieved, and thereafter grown more intense in unbelief, God will never forgive them, nor will He guide them to a way (leading to the ultimate triumph and salvation).
138. To the hypocrites (who are as just described), give glad tidings that for them is a painful punishment.
139. (The hypocrites are) those who take unbelievers for confidants, guardians and allies in preference to the believers: do they seek might and glory in being together with them? (If so, let them know that) might and glory belong altogether to God.
140. He has already revealed to you in the Book that when you hear the Revelations of God being rejected and mocked, no longer sit with them (show your disagreement) until they engage in some other talk, or else you will surely become like them. Assuredly, God will gather the hypocrites and the unbelievers all together in Hell.
141. (The hypocrites are) those who wait to see what befalls you: thus, if a victory comes to you from God, they say, “Were we not with you?” But if the unbelievers meet with a success, they say (to them:) “Did we not gain leverage over you (by not joining the believers, and weakening them from within) and did we not defend you from the believers?” God will judge between you (and them) on the Day of Resurrection, and never will God allow the unbelievers to find a way (to triumph) over the (true) believers.29
142. The hypocrites would trick God, whereas it is God who “tricks” them (by causing them to fall into their own traps). When they rise to do the Prayer, they rise lazily, and to be seen by people (to show them that they are Muslims); and they do not remember God (within or outside the Prayer), save a little,
143. Vacillating between (the believers) and (the unbelievers), neither with these, nor with those. Whoever God leads astray, for him you can never find a sound way (to follow).
144. O you who believe! Do not take the unbelievers for guardians and confidants in preference to the believers; or do you want to offer God a manifest proof against yourselves (of being hypocrites, and so incur His punishment)?
145. Surely the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth of the Fire; and you will never find for them any helper (against the Fire).
146. Except those who repent and mend their ways and hold fast to God and practice their Religion purely and sincerely for God’s sake: those (who repent) are counted with the believers and, in time, God will grant to the believers a tremendous reward.
147. What should God punish you if you are grateful (to Him) and believe (in Him)?30 God is Ever-Responsive to gratitude, All-Knowing.
148. God does not like any harsh speech to be uttered save by one who has been wronged (and, therefore, has the right to express that in appropriate language). God is indeed All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
149. Whether you do some good openly or do it in secret, or pardon an evil (done to you, even though you have the right to legal retaliation, know that) God is All-Pardoning, Ever-Able (to punish or forgive).
150. Those (deserving punishment) are they who disbelieve in God (not recognizing Him at all or not as He should be), and His Messengers (denying Messengership altogether or denying some of the Messengers), and who seek to make distinction between God and His Messengers (by claiming belief in God but denying Messengership or denying some of the Messengers), and say, “We believe in some and deny others,” seeking to take a way in between.
151. Such are in truth unbelievers, and We have prepared for the unbelievers a shameful, humiliating punishment.
152. But as for those who believe in God and His Messengers and make no distinction between them (between God and His Messengers or between the Messengers themselves), to them God will grant their rewards (in full). God is indeed All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
153. The People of the Book ask you to cause a Book to be sent down on them from heaven. (O Messenger, let this not shock you, for) they asked an even greater thing than this of Moses, when they said, “Show God to us openly,” and the thunderbolt seized them for their wrong-doing. Then they adopted the (golden) calf as deity – and this after the (miracles and other) clear proofs of the truth had come to them. Yet We (accepted their atonement and) pardoned them that; and We granted Moses (the Book and the Criterion, and thereby) a clear proof and authority.
154. (Moreover) We raised the Mount to tower above them to secure their promise (to hold firmly to the Book), and (on another occasion when We guided them to a town) We commanded them, “Go into it through its gate prostrating (humbly in utmost submission to God)”; and again, We once commanded them, “Do not exceed the bounds with respect to the Sabbath,” and We took from them a most solemn pledge.
155. And so, because of their breaking their pledge, and their intentional ignoring ofGod’s signs (in the universe, and in themselves), and their rejection of His Revelations, and their killing certain Prophets against all right, and their saying, “Our hearts have become callous (no longer having any ability to believe).” No! Rather, God has set a seal on their hearts because of their persistent unbelief, so that, with the exception of few, scarcely do they believe.31
156. And because of their (persistence in) unbelief, and speaking against Mary a tremendous calumny;
157. And their saying “We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God ” – whereas they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the matter was made dubious to them. Those who differ about this matter and about Jesus are indeed confused; they have no definite knowledge thereof, following mere conjecture; and of a certainty, they killed him not.
158. But God raised him to Himself. God is All-Glorious with irresistible might, All-Wise.
159. Yet there is none of the People of the Book but will, before the moment of his death, (grasp the truth about Jesus and) believe in him (though that belief will be of no benefit to them then); and on the Day of Resurrection, he will be a witness against them.32
160. So, because of the wrong committed by the Jews, We made unlawful for them many pure, wholesome things which had (hitherto) been lawful for them, and because of their barring many from God’s way;
161. And because of their taking interest although it had been forbidden to them, and consuming the wealth of people in wrongful ways (such as usury, theft, usurpation, bribery, gambling, and selling God’s Revelations); and We have prepared for the unbelievers among them (those who persisted in unbelief despite all the many warnings) a painful punishment.
162. But those of them firmly rooted in Knowledge, and the (true) believers, believe in what has been sent down to you (O Messenger), and what was sent down before you; and especially those who do the Prayer in conformity with all its conditions, and those who pay the Prescribed Purifying Alms, and the believers in God and the Last Day (as both must be believed in): to them will We will grant a tremendous reward.
163. We have revealed to you (O Messenger), as We revealed to Noah and the Prophets after him; and We revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Prophets who were raised in the tribes, and Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon; and We gave David the Psalms.33
164. And Messengers We have already told you of (with respect to their mission) before, and Messengers We have not told you of; and God spoke to Moses in a particular way.34
165. Messengers (have been sent as) bearers of glad tidings and warners, so that people might have no argument against God after the Messengers (had come to them). And God is All-Glorious with irresistible might, All-Wise.
166. (Whether people believe or not) God bears witness to (the truth of) what He has sent down to you. And He has sent it down from, based on and together with, His Knowledge. And the angels also bear witness (to it), though God suffices for a witness.
167. Surely those who (in defiance of that testimony) disbelieve, and bar (people) from God’s way, have indeed gone far astray.
168. Surely those who disbelieve and do wrong (to people by barring them from God’s way, and to God and His Messengers and angels, and to all believers and all creatures bearing witness to the truth, and to their own conscience, by accusing them of lying and deception) – God will indeed not forgive them, nor will He guide them to a road,
169. Except the road of Hell, to abide therein for ever; and that is easy for God.
170. O humankind! The Messenger has come to you with the truth from your Lord: believe, then, for your own good. And if you disbelieve, then (know that your unbelief will in no way harm Him, for) to God belongs whatever is in the heavens and on the earth. And God is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
171. O People of the Book! Do not go beyond the bounds in your religion, and do not say anything of God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was but a Messenger of God, and a Word of His (Power) which He conveyed to Mary, and a spirit from Him.35 So believe in God (as the One, Unique God), and His Messengers (including Jesus, as Messenger); and do not say: (God is one of) a trinity. Give up (this assertion) – (it is) for your own good (to do so). God is but One God; All-Glorified He is in that He is absolutely above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And God suffices as the One to be relied on, to Whom affairs should be referred.
172. The Messiah never disdains to be a servant to God, nor do the angels near-stationed to Him. Whoever disdains to worship God as a servant and feels his pride (puffed up by arrogance, should know that) God will gather them all to Himself (and call them to account).
173. To those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, He will grant their rewards in full, and will give them yet more out of His bounty; but as to those who are disdainful and arrogant, He will punish them with a painful punishment, and they will not find for them, against God, a guardian and protector, nor a helper.
174. O humankind! Now a Proof has come to you from your Lord, and We have sent down to you a clear Light (to illuminate your way and show you everything clearly).
175. So those who believe in God (as taught by this proof and light), and hold fast to Him – He will admit them into a (great) mercy from His Presence, and a bounty, and guide them direct to Him on a straight path.
176. They ask you (O Messenger) to pronounce a ruling. Say (to them): God pronounces to you the ruling concerning inheritance from those who have left behind no lineal heirs (kalālah): should a man die childless but have a sister, for her is the half of what he has left behind; and the brother will inherit from her if the sister dies childless. If the heirs are two sisters, for them is two-thirds of what he has left behind. And if the heirs are brothers and sisters, then for the male is the equivalent of the portion of two females. God makes (His commandments) clear to you lest you go astray. God has full knowledge of everything.
1. From many different aspects, this verse is very significant. However, due to the scope of this study, we can only discuss a few points here.
The original Arabic that has been translated as “a single human self” is nafs wāhidah (literally, a single self or soul.) As mentioned before, nafs has two basic meanings: the self of a being, and the faculty which is the source or mechanism of the worldly life possessed by humankind and the jinn. When both meanings are taken into consideration, the phrase “a single human soul” is preferable as a translation for nafs wāhidah.
There are similar verses in the Qur’ān that support such a choice. For example: And among His signs is that He has created for you, from your selves, mates, that you may incline towards them and find rest in them, and He has engendered love and tenderness between you (30: 21); God has made for you, from your selves, mates (spouses), and has made for you from your mates children and grandchildren, and has provided you with good, wholesome things (16: 72); The Originator of the heavens and the earth, each with particular features; He has made for you, from your selves, mates, and from the cattle mates (of their kind) …. (42: 11). What these verses are referring to by the phrase “your selves” is humankind, or the human self or nature. These verses draw our attention to the fact that everything exists in the universe in pairs, as is made clear in the verse: And all things We have created in pairs, so that you may reflect and be mindful (51:49).
Some are of the opinion that what the verse refers to by “a single human self” is Adam, upon him be peace. This is not contrary to the preference made in this study, for the Qur’ān presents Adam, upon him be peace, in the Garden before his earthly life as one who represents humankind or the human self, rather than as an individual man. However, Adam, upon him be peace, being used as the representative of the human self is a very subtle point. It is the male that inseminates and is the primary factor in reproduction. Insemination can result in either a male child or a female child. That is, a male can beget either a male or female. If nature had a creative power, as materialists or naturalists claim, a male could not beget a female; for nature is regularity and constancy. Yet, a female is neither a “natural” product nor a continuation of a male, nor vice versa. The male and female are the two halves or mates of a whole; these two halves complete each other, and each has features that are peculiar to itself. The existence of each depends solely on the Creator’s Will and Power, which are absolute. Nature is neither an originator nor a creative power; rather, it is a creation, a model, and a regular system established by the Creator.
Since the male has the inseminating function in reproduction in pairs, and the human self from which its mate was created is represented primarily by Adam, upon him be peace, women mean more as a blessing for men than men mean for women. As pointed out before (Sūrat al-Baqarah, note 21), it is from this perspective that the Qur’ān mentions women as being among the primary blessings of Paradise for men. As the male is the primary factor in reproduction in pairs, this means that men have a more dominant position and are charged naturally with the responsibilities required by this position.
Sūrat al-Nisā’ is, in addition to including other aspects, the source of Islamic civil law. This is why it is of great significance that it begins with the address, “O humankind!” With such an address, the Qur’ān appeals to human feelings, and brings out the need for being human in relationships. What is meant is that: “Each of you is a human being that shares the same human nature. You are all the offspring of the same father and mother, and, therefore, you are all brothers and sisters. This requires that you treat each other as brothers and sisters, without making any discrimination based on color, race, or language.” By focusing attention on the rights of kinship, this verse underlines this point, and by mentioning these rights along with the observation of God’s rights, it stresses their importance.
2. Some people wrongfully criticize Islam because it allows polygamy. Such a criticism, from several perspectives, is not justifiable; some of these perspectives are as follows:
- Polygamy is a very ancient practice found in many human societies. The Bible did not condemn polygamy. On the contrary, the Old Testament and Rabbinic writings frequently attest to the legality of polygamy. King Solomon and King David had many wives and concubines (2 Samuel: 5: 13). According to Father Eugene Hillman in his insightful book, Polygamy Reconsidered, “Nowhere in the New Testament is there any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit commandment forbidding polygamy.” Moreover, Jesus, upon him be peace, did not speak against polygamy, even though it was practiced by the Jews in his society. Father Hillman stresses the fact that the Church in Rome banned polygamy in order to conform to Greco-Roman culture (which prescribed only one legal wife while tolerating concubinage and prostitution). The Qur’ān, contrary to the Bible, limits the maximum number of wives to four, and it imposes the strict condition that all the wives be treated equally and justly. This should not be seen as the Qur’ān exhorting believers to practice polygamy, or that polygamy is considered as an ideal state. In other words, the Qur’ān tolerates or allows polygamy, and nothing more. But why is polygamy permissible? The answer is simple: there are places and times in which there are compelling social and moral reasons for polygamy. Islam, as a universal religion suitable for all places and all times, cannot ignore these compelling reasons.
- In most human societies, females outnumber males. In America today, there are at least eight million more women than men. In a country like Guinea, there are 122 females for every 100 males. In Tanzania, there are 95.1 males per 100 females (Hillman, 88-93). What should a society do when faced with such an unbalanced sex ratio? There are various solutions; some might suggest celibacy, while others prefer female infanticide (which tragically happens in even some “civilized” societies in the world today) Yet others may think the only solution is that society should tolerate all manners of sexual permissiveness: prostitution, infidelity, homosexuality, etc.
- Such an imbalance in the sex ratios becomes truly problematic in times of war. Native American Indian tribes used to suffer highly unbalanced sex ratios after military losses. The women in these tribes, who, in fact, enjoyed a fairly high status, accepted polygamy as being the best protection against indulgence in indecent activities. After the Second World War, there were 7,300,000 more women than men in Germany (3.3 million of them were widows). Many of these women needed a man not only as a companion, but also as a provider for the household in a time of unprecedented misery and hardship. What is more dignified for a woman—to be an accepted and respected second wife, as in the Native Indians’ approach, or to be nothing more than a prostitute? In 1987, a poll conducted by the student newspaper at the University of California at Berkeley asked students whether they agreed that men should be allowed by law to have more than one wife. This question was posed in response to a perceived shortage of male marriage candidates in California. Almost all of the students polled approved of the idea (J. Lang, Struggling to Surrender, 172).
- Up to the present day, polygamy continues to be a viable solution for some of the social ills in modern society. Philip Kilbride, an American anthropologist with a Roman Catholic background, proposes polygamy as a solution to some of the ills found in American society in his provocative book, Plural Marriage for Our Time. He argues that plural marriage may serve as a potential alternative for divorce in many cases, where it would obviate the damaging impact that divorce has on many children (Kilbride, 118).
- It should be noted that in many Muslim societies today, the practice of polygamy is rare, since there is a better balance between the ratio of the sexes. One can safely say that the rate of polygamous marriages in the Muslim world is much lower than the rate of extramarital affairs in the West. In other words, men in the Muslim world today are far more monogamous, in the absolute sense of the word, than men in the Western world.
- Moreover, many jurists allow women to stipulate in their marriage contracts (required for a Muslim marriage to be valid) that the husband may not take a second wife or that he must divorce the first wife (with all financial rights that accrue to her when the husband initiates a divorce) if he takes a second wife.Billy Graham, the eminent Christian evangelist has recognized this fact: “Christianity cannot compromise on the question of polygamy. If present-day Christianity cannot do so, it is to its own detriment. Islam has permitted polygamy as a solution to social ills and has allowed a certain degree of latitude to human nature, but only within the strictly defined framework of the law. Christian countries make a great show of monogamy, but actually they practice polygamy. No one is unaware of the part mistresses play in Western society. In this respect, Islam is a fundamentally honest religion, and permits a Muslim to marry a second wife if he must, but strictly forbids all clandestine amatory associations in order to safeguard the moral probity of the community.” (‘Abd ar-Rahmān Doi, Woman in Shari’ah, 76)
- There are even psychological factors calling for polygamy. For example, many young African brides, whatever their religion, would prefer to marry a man who has already proved himself to be a responsible husband. Many African wives urge their husbands to get a second wife so that they will not feel lonely (Hillman, 92–97). A survey of over six thousand women, ranging in age from 15 to 59, conducted in the second largest city in Nigeria showed that 60 percent of these women would be pleased if their husbands took another wife. In a survey undertaken in rural Kenya, 25 out of 27 women considered polygamy to be better than monogamy. These women felt polygamy can be a happy and beneficial experience if the co-wives cooperate with each other (Kilbride, 108–109)
- Modern civilization rejects polygamy as unwise and disadvantageous to social life. As observed even in animals and plants, the purpose for and wisdom in sexual relations is reproduction. The resulting pleasure is a small payment determined by Divine Mercy to realize this duty. Marriage is for reproduction and the perpetuation of the species. Being able to give birth at most once a year, able to become pregnant during half of a month, and entering menopause around 50, a woman is at a reproductive disadvantage compared to a man, so to speak, who can sometimes impregnate women until the age of 70 or more. That is why, in most cases, modern civilization is obliged to find new ways of impregnation at great cost. Even if the purpose of marriage were merely sexual gratification, polygamy would be a lawful way to realize it. (Summarized from Sherif Muhammad.)
3. The following points should be taken into consideration when viewing the matter of (female-)slavery from within the matrix of Islam:
- Islam did not invent or establish the institution of (female-)slavery; rather it found itself in an international arena where (female-)slavery was practiced in the most abominable manner. Islam viewed the matter as related to wartime and dealt with this subject as if it were a matter of how to treat prisoners of war. Although (female-)slavery, in various forms, was in practice until recently, Islam adopted a process to abolish it over the course of time, fourteen centuries ago. It was not Islam, but those who related themselves to Islam, that were responsible for certain objectionable practices that have been witnessed in some Muslim communities over the previous centuries.
- While international law in the modern world does not date back to more than a few centuries, Islam established principles and laws in matters concerning international relations, such as war and the treatment of the prisoners-of-war over fourteen centuries ago. Imam Muhammad al-Shaybānī, who lived twelve centuries ago, was the first to write a book on international law, al-Siyar al-Kabīr. This book is based on the relevant injunctions in the Qur’ān and on the practice of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings.
- Islam forbade the killing of prisoners-of-war, and in place of this, instructed that they be distributed among Muslim families. Great importance was attached to their education and their “owners” were advised to marry the women among them. Such “prisoners-of-war” were to be given the status of free women when they gave birth to a child. Islam aims at their final emancipation and the eradication of (female-)slavery. As recompense for many sinful acts, such as breaking fast before the proper time, Islam required the emancipation of a (female-)slave, and exhorted believers to emancipate their (female-)slaves, stating that this is a very meritorious act.
- Without making any gender discrimination, Islam attaches great value to humankind. It aims at elevating all human beings to the true rank of humanity, as this is the best pattern of creation. It regards the women who have attained this rank with their level of education, character and virtuousness, as being muhsan (protected women). A woman devoid of such lofty moral and spiritual values, one who presents herself as merely a physical object of sex, cannot be a muhsan. Attaining this rank requires true education, and Islam has established rules for each stage or grade. Therefore, the matter of (female-)slavery has educational and psychological dimensions, in addition to social and international ones.
- As pointed out before (Sūrah: 2, note: 95), with regard to legislation, Islam follows three principal ways: it retains the commandments that existed in previous Books or that prevailed in the community in which it appeared, and which were not contradictory to its essential principles; it corrected or amended the ones that were not in conformity with its principles; and finally, it installed new legislation. In each of these ways, Islam followed a gradual process, especially in matters where it required a long time to eradicate old habits or establish a new approach. The matter of (female-)slavery is one such issue, especially due to its international dimension.
4. This short verse contains the basic principles of the Islamic law of inheritance established by the Qur’ān, as well as a significant warning:
- Like men, women also have a share in inheritance.
- The property left behind by a deceased person is inherited, no matter the amount.
- It makes no difference whether the inherited property is movable or immovable.
- Any children, parents, grandparents or other near relatives can inherit from another person. If there are near kindred, those who are of collateral relations cannot inherit.
- Heirs cannot be deprived of inheritance, except for exceptional cases, such as if they have killed their testator (at-Tirmidhī, “Farā’id,” 17). (Suat Yıldırım, 77.)
The significant warning that is contained in the verse is as follows: In the pre-Islamic age, women were forbidden from inheriting. By mentioning women or female heirs separately, in the same way that male heirs are mentioned, i.e. by reiteration, an emphasis is made, stressing that whether the inheritance is great or small, women cannot be deprived of it on any pretext, such as the amount being insignificant.
5. In these last two verses, the basic principles and standards of the Islamic law of inheritance are laid down; the precise details have been established on these standards and on the practice of the Prophet and his Companions. Before elucidating some points, we should consider the fact that these two verses present the Islamic law of inheritance as God’s absolute command, and in their conclusive pronouncements declare that they are based on God’s Knowledge and Wisdom. Therefore, what we should do is to try to find instances of His Divine Wisdom in them. Breaching these orders means disobedience to God and His Messenger, while rejecting them amounts to unbelief. Secondly, Islam is not a religion that takes up a position of answering objections. Whatever it decrees is right and just. So, our intention, while explaining Islam’s position in matters that have been made the target of objections during recent times, is to illuminate sincere minds.
- According to the Islamic law of inheritance, with the exception of the father and mother, and in some cases, the brothers and sisters, a son receives twice as much as a daughter, a brother twice as much as a sister and a husband twice as much as a wife.
- Islam is universal, taking into consideration and addressing the conditions of all ages and communities. Its worldview is holistic and it deals with particular matters in a universal frame. So, when viewing its law of inheritance, we should consider many psychological and sociological factors, such as the psychology of women and men, their positions and financial responsibilities in the family and society, and their contribution to the economy. We should evaluate every matter with respect to its own nature and within its own framework, and not be misled by theoretical abstractions disconnected from lived reality, such as absolute equality, the pursuit of which can often result in loss of equity and balance.
- In order to understand the rationale behind why Islam, in some cases, gives women half the share of men, one must take into account the fact that the financial obligations of men in Islam far exceed those of women. A bridegroom must provide his bride with a marriage gift. This gift becomes her exclusive property and remains so even if she is later divorced. The bride is under no obligation to present any gifts to her husband. Moreover, the Muslim husband is charged with the maintenance of his wife and children. The wife, on the other hand, is not obliged to help him in this regard. Her property and earnings are for her use alone, except what she may voluntarily offer her husband. Moreover, one has to realize that Islam strongly advocates family life. It positively encourages young people to get married and discourages divorce. Therefore, in a truly Islamic society, family life is the norm, while single life is the rare exception. That is, almost all women and men of a marriageable age will be married in an Islamic society. In light of these facts, one can appreciate that Muslim men, in general, have greater financial burdens than Muslim women, and the inheritance rules take account of this reality (See Sherif Muhammad).
- When a woman inherits less than a man does, she is not actually deprived of anything for which she has worked. Any property that is inherited is not the result of her earning or her endeavors. It is something that comes from a neutral source, something additional or extra. It is something that neither the man nor the woman has struggled for. It is a sort of aid, and any aid has to be distributed according to the most urgent needs and responsibilities, especially when the distribution is regulated by God’s law.
- The Qur’ānic injunction of inheritance is a perfect mercy for women, in addition to its being perfectly just. Because a young girl is sensitive and vulnerable, she must be looked on with affection by her father. Thanks to the Qur’ānic injunction concerning inheritance, the father does not see her as a child who will cause him loss by carrying away to others half of his wealth. In addition, her brothers feel compassion for her and protect her, without feeling envy; they do not consider her as a rival in the division of the family possessions. Thus, the affection and compassion which the girl enjoys through her family compensates for her apparent loss in inheritance.
- Some still object that a woman’s share should, from the beginning, be equal to that of man, and then we would not be compelled to compensate her by allowing her a dowry and maintenance on the part of her husband.
Those who make this objection think that the dowry and the maintenance are the results of women’s peculiar position with regard to inheritance, whereas the reality is just the opposite. Furthermore, they seem to be under the impression that the financial aspect is the only consideration. Had that been the only consideration, obviously there would have been neither a need for the system of dowry and maintenance, nor would there be a disparity between the shares of men and women. As we have mentioned earlier, Islam has taken into consideration many aspects, some of them natural and others psychological. In most cases, in her parents’ house, her contribution to the family income is much less than that of her brother(s). Also, a son has to look after his mother if the father dies, while the mother will not have to support herself from this portion, nor will any unmarried daughter have to support herself from her share in an Islamic society; in effect, their shares are for their personal use. Other psychological and social aspects, which help in the consolidation of domestic relations, have also been considered (M. Mutahhari).
- It is for this reason that it would be a severe injustice, and not at all a kindness, to institute a larger share for a girl or woman, to give her more than is her due, merely out of “compassion.” This is unrealistic because no one can be more compassionate than God. Rather, if Qur’ānic bounds are exceeded, women may become, for the reasons we have given, vulnerable to exploitation and tyranny in the family, especially in view of the barbaric selfishness of certain times. As for the Qur’ānic injunctions, all of them, like those pertaining to inheritance, prove the truth expressed in the verse, We have not sent you (O Muhammad) with the mission of Messengership, but as an unequalled mercy for all the worlds (21: 107).
- Islam does not support the idea that wealth is a fortune circulated among a small minority. It wants the wealth to be distributed among as many people as possible. Concerning inheritance, considering that God’s grace and bountifulness have a share in it, it is strongly advised, even ordered, that distant relatives, orphans, and the poor should also benefit from any wealth.
6. Unjust killing, fornication and adultery, theft and usurpation, anarchy and terror, open and rebellious apostasy, slander, and partaking of intoxicating substances, including drugs, are the most grievous crimes in Islam. Muslim Law aims at the protection of the faith, the mind, life, property, and healthy reproduction; the most severe punishments are applied for their violation.
Although there are different opinions concerning these two verses, the view which has been most widely accepted is that they are complementary to one another. While verse 15 is concerned only with Muslim women guilty of indulging in unlawful sex, verse 16 concerns the act of unlawful sex, the partners of which are known. The reason why the Qur’ān has established the matter in this way and mentions women separately must be that, just as there are brothels and similar places in modern societies, women engaged in prostitution were also around during the pre-Islamic period of Jāhiliyyah. So, as an important step on the way to the decisive banning and prevention of prostitution, and of any other kind of unlawful sex, the Qur’ān mentions women separately. Then, it proceeds to mention individual cases of unlawful sex where the partners are known to have committed this act.
As with several other commandments, Islam followed a gradual process in laying down the final penalty for unlawful sex. First, in these two verses, it prescribed that the Muslims who had committed such an act should be scolded and beaten, and that the female partners be kept in houses in order to prevent prostitution. The expression, or God opens some way for them, which meant that a new, final commandment would be revealed, resulted in the execution of the adulterous married couples according to the Prophet’s practice, and striking the unmarried ones with a whip 100 times (See 24: 2).
In note 131 of Sūrat al-Baqarah, the basic principles upon which the Islamic Penal Law is based were summarized. Taking into consideration the penalty for adultery, we should add the following points:
- During the Makkan period, the following was revealed to the believers (18: 26, 31-35, 59): give relatives, the needy and wayfarers their due; kill nobody unjustly, including children; refrain from adultery; do not consume the property of orphans; and do not deceive in weighing and measuring. These came as principles of Wisdom, in return for whose violation no penalty was prescribed. However, in Madīnah, where an Islamic government was established after the Companions’ swearing a pledge to the Messenger, these provisions became articles of law, the violation of which brought a penalty. This shows that the Islamic Penal Law was put into effect in a system established on the basis of the Islamic creed, worldview, worship, behavior, standards of morality, and social and economic structure. Thus, the penal law should be evaluated within the entirety of Islam.
- Islam followed a gradual process in laying down the final penalty for crimes, such as adultery and the consumption of alcohol, and the penalties prescribed before the final one were not removed from the Qur’ān, despite their being abrogated. This means that an Islamic community is one that is gradually perfected along with the implementation of Islamic rules. It resembles a healthy body. Every crime committed in such a community is like a disease threatening the body, according to its nature and degree. Rebellious apostasy, killing, anarchy, terror, adultery, consuming intoxicating substances, slander, theft and usurpation are the most deadly of diseases. Just as some diseases require medicine for recovery, while others need radiotherapy, and still others require an operation, so too, the diseases that threaten a healthy social body require the same kind of therapies, each according to its nature and degree of intensity.
- With its principles of creed, worship, good conduct or behavior, morality, and social and economic structure, Islam prevents people from committing crimes. It can be said that Islam makes it 95% more difficult to commit deadly sins or crimes, and leaves the remaining 5% to human free will. Therefore, it is clear that those who commit the grave crimes mentioned in the previous note are diseased elements in a truly Islamic society.
- Islam has made it considerably difficult to establish and prove adultery and to implement the prescribed penalty. The number of those who have been proven to be guilty of adultery or theft and who have been punished during the thirteen centuries of Islam until the 14th century after the Hijrah was extremely small. The incidents of adultery and theft that occur in a single year in one so-called modern, civilized country, and the complications, such as divorce, the collapse of families, suicide, murder, and depression, all caused by such events, far exceed the number of such incidents during the thirteen centuries of Islamic history throughout all the Muslim lands. Should not those who criticize Islam for the penalties it prescribes for grievous crimes view the matter from this perspective, at least, if they are not ignorant of the truth of the matter nor prejudiced opponents of Islam?
- In the Bible, there are many examples of adultery, all of which were punished either by stoning or burning, or in some other way. Furthermore, these kinds of punishment were not restricted only to adultery; if a man married a woman and her daughter at the same time, all three were killed by burning (Leviticus, 20: 10–21). There is no commandment in the Gospels that abrogates these laws. We can only find an episode in John (8: 3-11), where Jesus, upon him be peace, refused to judge on the stoning of an adulterous woman brought before him. The reason why he did this is quite clear. The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, upon him be peace: “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. If Jesus, upon him be peace, had ordered her to be stoned, they would have objected: “Did you not order mercy?” If he had not, they would have protested: “Did you not declare that you accepted Moses’ Law?” Jesus, upon him be peace, started to write on the ground with his finger, and said: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” By so doing, he taught a lesson. At his time, the Jewish community was highly contaminated by sins. Those who wanted to make him exercise a commandment were the same persons who were foremost in disobedience to the Law, yet it was they who had to preserve it and judge by it. There was no ground propitious for implementing the Law, nor was Jesus, upon him be peace, in the position to implement it. So, this event is not one that shows there was no penalty for adultery in the Gospels, but rather one which demonstrates the spirit of the religious – Islamic – Penal Law.
Furthermore, the Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, brought stricter moral and spiritual sanctions against adultery: “You have heard that it was said to those of old: ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew, 5: 27–29).
- Islam is not aimed at the satisfaction of animal appetites at any cost, as are secular, materialist civilizations; rather, it urges the spirit to true human perfection and the bringing up of virtuous generations, whose minds are enlightened with scientific knowledge and whose hearts are illuminated with pure spiritual values.
7/8. Marrying not only milk-mothers and milk-sisters, but all of those who have as close a relationship through milk as through descent (i.e. nieces or nephews from milk), and marrying a niece and her aunt together, were prohibited by the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, based either on the Revelation or by inference from this verse.
9. In these last two verses, the Qur’ān indicates an important social reality and clarifies an aspect of female slavery. While the previous verse warns men who will marry believing, free women not to stray into ways of indecency, like adultery, this verse admonishes that female slaves should also refrain from such deviations. It also mentions the matter of marrying female slaves in the case of men who fear deviation into unlawful ways if they were to remain unmarried. What we can understand from this is that men are more susceptible to deviation than women. A free Muslim woman is so far from falling that it is not even contemplated; such a woman is extremely careful about her chastity. A believing female slave may be susceptible.
We conclude from this that in the view of Islam a free, Muslim, chaste woman is the ideal of respectable womanhood; others, though believers, may not be careful about their chastity and, therefore, do not enjoy the same status or respect. A woman loses her right to respect when she indulges in indecency or she presents herself as a sexual object, using her physical charms to allure; this means that she has fallen from the rank of true humanity. Similarly, respected members of a pure, Islamic society cannot perceive of women as sexual objects. Islam regards indecencies such as fornication, adultery, and prostitution as the most abominable things, and sees these as the cause of people falling lower than animals. The sexual drive in animals is directed at reproduction; it is not just a desire to be satisfied in any way, at any means. For example, bull-camels smell the urine of a she-camel in order to learn whether the camel has been inseminated or not. They will not mate otherwise.
10. Humanity is, so to speak, riddled with many weak spots. So we must be educated and liberated from our weak points. An important dimension of education is to keep the sphere of permission so wide as to satisfy the vital needs and lawful human desires, and lay down such prohibitions that will prevent people from going to extremes. Religious prohibitions and other responsibilities are not a burden on humanity; rather, they serve to lighten a burden which would otherwise crush us. The sphere of permission in Islam is wide enough for humanity to lead a perfect, human life, and to remove all possibility of conflict between the human spirit and bodily desires. So any kind of satisfaction sought outside that sphere is a great burden for the human heart and spirit to bear, and a torment upon torment, and a means of suffering and disasters for the family and social life.
11. The major sins are those in return for committing which God or His Messenger threatens a severe punishment in the Hereafter, and for some of which there is (also) a prescribed punishment in the world. Disbelieving in God and/or associating partners with Him are the greatest of the major sins. The others are despairing of God’s mercy; regarding oneself as secure from His punishment; disrespecting one’s parents or failing to observe their rights; unjust killing; fornication and adultery; consuming the property of others, especially that of orphans; theft; engaging in usury; turning back (as a soldier) when the army advances, or fleeing from battle-front; slandering the reputation of chaste women; sorcery; drinking alcohol; gambling; exchanging God’s covenant and the oaths taken in His Name for worldly advantages; betraying public trusts; giving false evidence in a court; not carrying out any of the obligatory religious duties (such as abandoning the Prescribed Prayer, not paying the Zakāh (Prescribed Purifying Alms), not fasting the Ramadān, or not going to the Major Pilgrimage), and barring people from God’s way.
It is said that no sin for which one has sincerely repented and asked for God’s forgiveness is great, and no sin that has been committed continuously and without repentance is considered to be minor.
12. This verse is highly significant for male–female relationships and family law. It draws attention to the following cardinal points:
- God has not created all people exactly the same in all respects, but rather has given each person a form of superiority in some respect to others; this is a requirement of social life and is the origin of the division of labor and the need for variety of occupation. Although it is not true to the same degree with all men and women, He has created men, in some respects, superior to women, while He has also given women superiority over men in other respects.
- As a general rule, God has given men greater physical strength than women and endowed them with a greater capacity for management, as the fact that even in the modern world, administrators are usually men proves. He has also charged men with the financial responsibility of the family. Again, this is not true to the same degree for all men and women; there will, of course, be some women who are better managers than some men. This is why He has made men the head of the family. However, this does not mean that men have absolute authority in the family; rather, this authority must be exercised according to the Prophetic principle: The master of a people is he who serves them. But responsibility is proportionate to authority, and authority is proportionate to responsibility.
- Men are generally responsible for the well-being and prosperity of the family members. So while the verse directs men as to how they should treat rebellious women who are of bad conduct, it guides them to a gradual means of education: admonish them (to do what is right); then, (if that proves to be of no avail), remain apart from them in beds; then (if that too proves to be of no avail), beat them lightly (without slapping them in their faces). All of the Qur’ānic commentators of the early period, whose opinions Ibn Jarīr at-Tabarī mentioned in his Tafsīr interpreted the verb darb in the verse to mean beating or striking lightly.
It should be noted that these measures are aimed at education and saving the marriage from collapse in case of a wife’s rebelliousness. It is not a matter of women being beaten only because they are women, but rather this punishment is only applicable to a truly rebellious person who is of evil conduct, a person who displays obstinacy, not only not doing her duty in the home but also one who does not care about good moral conduct; in short, such a woman is not only wronging her family, she is also wronging herself.
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, interpreted the verse to mean that the beating should be light and only employed as a last resort in extreme cases such as lewdness committed by the wife; he warned men to refrain from beating as much as possible, and slapping in the faces (at-Tirmidhī, “Kitāb at-Tafsīr, Tawbah,” 1 ; Abū Dāwūd, “Nikāh,” 42). The last part of the verse is also of the same import. Furthermore, the Messenger condemned any unjustifiable beating. He exhorted men to be good to their families, saying: “The best of you is he who is best to his family, and I am the best among you to my family” (Ibn Mājah, “Nikāh” 50). He advised a Muslim woman, Fātimah bint Qays, not to marry a man known for beating women (Muslim, “Talaq,” 36).
On the other hand, Islam never leaves women unprotected in the face of men’s harsh treatment and negligence of their family duties. First, it advises reconciliation: If a woman fears from her husband ill-treatment or (such breach of marital obligations as) his turning away in aversion, then there will be no blame on them to set things right peacefully between them; peaceful settlement is better…. (O husbands) if you do good in consciousness of God and act in reverence for Him and piety (in observing the rights of women), then surely God is fully aware of what you do (4: 128). However, it does not advise women to resort to the two measures of leaving their husbands in bed and beating. This must be because it seeks to protect the wife from a violent physical reaction by her already misbehaving husband. But it recognizes the woman’s right to resort to the court and even demand divorce. Muslim scholars suggest that the court can apply the same three measures in question against the husband on the wife’s behalf.
- No system or religion has a right to ask Islam to apologize for any of its commandments, including this one concerning women. On the contrary, every other system is humiliated before Islam. All surveys conducted show that women have been subjected to abuse in almost all other “religions” and systems, and this still continues in the modern, “civilized” world. In contrast, the periods when Islam was being practiced consciously were a golden age for women. To cite a single example, what foreign travelers and observers wrote during the first quarter of the 18th century – a time when all the Muslim world, including the Ottoman State, was in decline—is enough to clarify this point:
No one locks their house in the city where about one million people live because no theft has ever been reported. You do not see a vagabond, nor a beggar, nor one who shouts loudly in the streets. Women receive the greatest respect at home and enjoy certain authority. There is nothing more abominable to stare at a woman walking in the street, and especially raising a hand to beat them. It is impossible to describe the beauty of the Turkish women (Djevad, 35-36 [Quoted from Mr. Porter, British Ambassador to Turkey]).
13. These last two verses lay down the fundamental principles for a sound Islamic social system:
- The entrusting of all public duties and positions to those qualified for them;
- Ensuring justice in public affairs and judgment;
- Having absolute obedience to God and His Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings;
- Ensuring that the critical posts and positions, especially, are assigned to the believers qualified for them, and ensuring that their commands are obeyed, provided they are in conformity with the Qur’ān and the Sunnah of the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings;
- Referring controversial matters and differences to the Qur’ān and the Sunna;
- And, as the most influential sanction for the maintenance of the system, having real belief in God and the Last Day.
The command of obeying being mentioned twice, once for God and once for the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, indicates that the Messenger is infallible and has the right to legislate alongside the Qur’ān. He must be obeyed in his orders, both as a President and a Prophet; his orders or prohibitions and way of life comprise his Sunnah, which is to be strictly followed until the Last Day, while his presidency ended with his death. The command of obeying is not mentioned for administrators specifically. This means that obedience to them is conditional. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, clarified this point by saying that there is no obedience in sin or rebellion against God (al-Bukhārī, “Ahkām,” 4; Muslim, “‘Imârah,” 46). They must be obeyed in their orders, as long as these are not contrary to the Sharī‘ah. However, disobedience does not mean revolt. It is laid out in relevant books of Islamic law what Muslim people can do to protest against their administrators.
Another point to note here is that Islam refers all the functions fulfilled by modern democratic or undemocratic systems of government to the Muslim community itself. This means that these functions are duties that are to be shared and fulfilled by the community. The institution of swearing allegiance in Islam also demonstrates this. The system of government is a kind of social contract and division of labor.
14. The holy Qur’ān is a miracle of eloquence and conciseness from beginning to the end. One of the aspects of its eloquence is that while reporting an incident, it uses the incident as a reason to promulgate a new rule or declare a universal truth, without drifting away from the incident.
The word tāghūt (powers of evil which institute patterns of rule in defiance of God) is used both in singular and plural. In this verse, in the clause when they were expressly commanded to reject him, the Qur’ān refers to a particular person included in the meaning of tāghūt, who was known to its first addressees during the time of the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. By mentioning an incident, it presents an important aspect of hypocrisy, which is that although hypocrites claim to believe in God’s Book and, therefore, must practice it in their daily lives, they also continue to ignore justice and what is right, seeking other authorities whose judgment they hope will be to their advantage. By presenting an incident which took place during the Messenger’s time, the Qur’ān draws attention to this aspect of hypocrisy and declares a very important truth or requirement of faith: if you believe in God’s Book, you must refer to its judgment in the disputes among you and submit to it wholeheartedly. You cannot seek another authority in the settlement of the issues among you.
15. The facts expressed in the verses above are very important for both the health of a person’s faith and for an Islamic society. First of all, it should be known that the Messenger of God, upon him be peace and blessings, legislates just as the Qur’ān does. Moreover, his way of living or practicing Islam is the principal standard for believers to follow. Secondly, the Qur’ān and the way of the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings – the Sunnah – are the unquestionable and absolutely authorized sources of Islam which must be obeyed. All other ways that are not authorized by them will lead to heresy.
The Qur’ān frequently calls God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, The Prophet or The Messenger. Naming him thus means that the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be God’s blessings and peace, is the greatest of the Prophets and Messengers. When we mention someone with their title without mentioning their name, and with the definite article attached, then we are saying that they are the most distinguished among those sharing that title, and that they are the greatest representative of the mission or institution whose members bear that title. So when we hear or say, The Prophet or The Messenger, we refer to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings; it is he who represents the Prophethood and the Messengership in the best way as the greatest of the Prophets and Messengers.
16. The words and style adopted by this verse lead us to understand that it is connected with what verse 2: 54 and similar verses teach.
17. This verse refers to four classes of people who act as guides for others throughout the history of humankind. It has a direct connection with, and explains, verses 1: 6–7. What is meant by “favor” is perfect guidance; each class of people mentioned here is favored with this.
18. The last two verses explain some important things concerning Divine Destiny and human free will, such as the following:
- Be it good or bad, whatever happens to a person has been determined by the Divine Eternal Will, Which considers human free will in all Its determinations.
- It is God Who established what cause (thought, belief, and action) brings about what result, and humanity cannot escape this framework. It is also in this sense that it is said that whatever happens to humanity is from God.
- As a requirement of the free will He has granted to humanity, God creates whatever His servants will. So, it is God Who creates whatever happens to them, whether it be good or bad, and it is in this meaning that whatever happens to a person is from God.
- God never wills evil for His servants. He always wills good for them and directs them to it. So, whatever good thing happens to a person, it is because God has willed it for them and directs their free will toward it. This means that since God has willed it, He has directed a person’s free will toward this action, enabling them to do it, and creating it; therefore, any good that happens to a person is solely from God.
- A person becomes the source and doer of whatever evil befalls them by preferring evil and doing it despite God’s orienting their free will toward good. So, whatever evil befalls a person is from themselves.
- In addition to the fact that whatever good happens to a person is from God, God rewards that good and admits His good servants into Paradise. So, God’s rewarding a person and admitting him or her into Paradise is purely out of His bounty and grace. However, misfortune will befall a person in the world, and they will earn Hellfire in the Hereafter because of their obstinacy in unbelief or polytheism, or their transgressions, despite God’s infinite compassion, forgiveness, and His exhorting people to good. So, the placing of a person in Hell is merely justice that is embedded in the compassion of God.
19. Consider the following facts:
- Although the Qur’ān was revealed in parts over 20 years, to fulfill different needs and purposes, it has perfect harmony, as if it had all been revealed at the same time.
- Although the Qur’ān was revealed over 20 years on different occasions, its parts are so mutually supportive that it is as if it had been revealed on only one occasion.
- Although the Qur’ān came in answer to different, repeated questions, its parts are so united and harmonious with one another that it is as if it had been in answer to a single question.
- Although the Qur’ān came to judge diverse cases and events, it displays such a perfect order that it is as if it were a judgment delivered on a single case or event.
- Although the Qur’ān was revealed by Divine courtesy, in styles varied to suit innumerable people who had or have different levels of understanding, moods, and temperament, its parts exhibit so beautiful a similarity, correspondence, and fluency that it is as if it were addressing only one level of understanding and temperament.
- Although the Qur’ān speaks to an infinite variety of people, all distant from one another in time, space, and character, it has such a fluent way of explanation, such a pure style, and a clear way of description, that it is as if it were addressing only one homogenous group, each different group thinking that it is being addressed uniquely and specifically.
- Although the Qur’ān was revealed to enable the gradual guidance of different peoples with various purposes, it has such a perfect straightforwardness, sensitive balance, and beautiful order, that it is as if it were pursuing only one purpose.
- Rather than being reasons for confusion, these factors add to the miraculousness of the Qur’ān’s explanations and to its fluency of style and harmony. Anyone with a sound heart, conscience, and good taste can see the graceful fluency, exquisite proportion, pleasant harmony, and matchless eloquence in its explanations. And anyone with a sound power of sight and insight can see that the Qur’ān presents an eye with which to see the whole universe, with all its inner and outer dimensions, like a single page on which all the meanings contained can be read (The Words, “the 25th Word,” 433).
20. For the Qur’ān’s attitude toward war and the rules it established concerning war, see, 2: 190, 191, 194, 216, and notes 137 (Appendix 2), 138, 140, and 147 in Sūrat al-Baqarah.
21. As recorded in the sources, the last two verses refer to those people who belonged to the tribes of Ghatfan and Asad; they professed faith in Madīnah, but returned to unbelief and cooperated with the Makkan polytheists against the Muslims when they returned to their lands. However, since a verse being revealed with respect to a specific event does not mean that it is restricted to that event, the Qur’ān is here presenting a typical hypocrisy. Hypocrites, who were constantly worried whether time would progress in their favor or disfavor, professed faith when they came to Madīnah, in order to secure the Muslims’ confidence in them, but when they returned home, they displayed the unbelief in their hearts and took part in all the hostile machinations against Islam and the Muslims. Emigration to Madīnah was of crucial importance and a sign of true belief in that period when the Muslims suffered from the pressures and constraints imposed on them by the unbelievers. So, by revealing the hypocrisy in the hearts and attitudes of such people, the Qur’ān warns the believers against them.
22. Setting free a believing slave is a duty to God and the Muslim community, while paying blood-money is a duty to the heirs of the victim. Emancipating a believing slave means, in one respect, granting the slave a (free) life as atonement for one’s killing a believer by mistake. This explicitly shows the great value Islam attaches to freedom. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, fixed the blood-money at 100 camels, or at the market value of the same. However, the heirs of the victim are allowed to forgo the blood-money or to reduce it. The killer should also turn to God in remorse and repentance, so that his sin may be pardoned and his soul secured against the recurrence of similar mistakes.
23. With its miraculous eloquence, the Qur’ān exhorts the believers to emigrate and strive in God’s cause, implying that the most valuable journeying in God’s sight is that which is made for God’s cause, such as emigration and going forth to serve God’s cause. By mentioning the Prescribed Prayer between the verses in which it stresses the significance of emigration (hijrah) and striving in God’s cause (jihād), including fighting the enemy, it both legislates how Prayer should be performed during the journey and in a state of war, and draws attention to the fundamental relation between success in striving for God’s cause and the Prayer, including the recitations of God’s glorification, praise, and exaltation after the Prayer, which are the seeds of faith.
The Prescribed Prayers are shortened during a journey or when in a state of fear or insecurity, including times of war or disaster, such as fire and flood. Those Prayers performed in a state of fear are called Prayers of Fear, while those prayed during a journey are known as the Prayers of Journey. For the Prayers that consist of four rak’ah, the Prayer of Journey is performed with two rak’ahs, while the others – those of morning and evening – remain the same. Although there are differences of opinion among jurists on how many rak’ahs for the Prayers that normally consist of four rak’ahs should be prayed for a Prayer of Fear, by mentioning them together with those of the journey, the Qur’ān seems to imply that both are the same. However, the forms of their praying are different. The Prayers of Journey that consist of two rak’ahs are prayed like the Morning Prayer, while those of Fear are prayed as described in verse 102: a group of soldiers prays one rak’ah while the other group takes its position against the enemy, and then this other group also prays one rak’ah, each behind the Prayer-leader. Subsequently, each of the two groups comes, in turn, to complete the Prayer by performing one more rak’ah individually. This is the view of the Hanafī School.
24. Although the five times of the Prescribed Prayer were fixed by the Messenger upon the instruction of Archangel Gabriel, they can be deduced from the relevant verses of the Qur’ān: Establish the Prayer from the declining of the sun to the darkness of the night, and (be ever observant of) the recitation of the Qur’ān at dawn (17: 78); Establish the Prayer at the beginning and the end of the day, and in the watches of the night near to the day (11: 114); Glorify your Lord with praise before sunrise and before sunset, and glorify Him during some hours of the night – as well as glorifying (Him) at the ends of the day (20: 130); So glorify God when you enter the evening and when you enter the morning – and (proclaim that) all praise and gratitude in the heavens and on the earth are for Him – and in the afternoon and when you enter the noon time (30: 17–18). It is possible also to see the time of the late night Prayers (Tahajjud and Witr) in both the verses mentioned and in 73: 2–4; 17: 79; 51: 17; 76: 26. Both these verses, and that which has just been interpreted above (103), emphasize, in particular, the importance of the recitations of God’s glory, praise, and exaltation after each Prayer. This last verse also stresses the importance of observing the prescribed times for the Prayer and performing it on time.
25. “There are good lessons to be learned from the incidents in connection with which the four verses above were revealed. A Muslim named Ta‘imah ibn Ubayraq, from the tribe of Zafar, was suspected of having stolen a suit of armor. When he feared detection, he planted the stolen property in the house of a Jew, where it was found. The Jews denied the charge and accused Ta‘imah, but some among the Muslims sympathized with Ta‘imah because of his nominal profession of Islam. When the case came for trial, Islamic justice prevailed and the case turned against Ta‘imah. Realizing that his punishment was imminent, he fled and left Islam.” (Özek et al., 95)
26. Many among those who reject belief in One God often adopt male and female deities. While they often choose a masculine one as their supreme deity, their other deities are feminine. This is because they adore their own selves and consider, first of all, the satisfaction of their interests and animal desires. Since men’s primary appetite is for women, and since they tend to exploit these deities to satisfy their needs, they choose many of their deities from among women. They desire to see a physically handsome woman wherever they look, and tend to eternalize them by making them into statutes and pictures. This is the most abominable way of degrading the standing of women, and it amounts to nothing more than viewing women as only physical objects. For them, women are no more than simple objects involved in the gratification of their desires and interests. Women are no longer given the respect or affection when they need them most.
Humankind also suffer from many different fears. They feel awe before the things they fear. This is why they generally conceive of their supreme deity, before whom they feel awe, as being masculine, and they fawn on him. Even if such people may be Pharaoh-like tyrants, it makes no difference; such people degrade themselves to kiss the feet of any power above themselves and in whose hands they see the satisfaction of their needs and desires.
The verse clarifies that those who invent deities other than God, in fact, call upon Satan as a deity, as it is Satan who drives them to do so.
27. The alteration of God’s creation means changing an original or natural form by artificial means and using a thing outside of the purpose for which it was created by God. All acts done in violation of a thing’s true or intrinsic nature are included in this. For example, the sterilization of men or women; turning males into eunuchs; surgically altering one’s physical appearance; sodomy and other kinds of illicit relations; making lawful what God has made unlawful and vice versa; etc.
28. By using the phrase “O you who believe,” which includes a verb, instead of “O believers,” the Qur’ān is addressing all who have verbally confessed belief and entered the sphere of faith and Islam. The hypocrites are included in this address. By commanding to believe after this address, it stresses that true faith does not consist in a verbal confession alone.
Truly, faith does not consist in a simple acceptance or confession. Just as there are many stages or degrees in the growth of a tree (for example, the date tree) from its seed until its fully-grown, fruit-bearing state, and just as there are countless degrees and ranks in the manifestations of the sun from its manifestations of light and heat in all things on the earth up to its reflection on the moon and then back to itself, so, too, does faith have almost uncountable degrees and ranks, from a simple acknowledgment of reason and confirmation of the heart, up to degrees of penetration in all the parts and faculties of the body that control and direct the entire life of a person – from the faith of a common person to that of the greatest of the Messengers. The first degree or rank of faith is simply believing in the essentials mentioned in this verse, and then comes the deepening of, and being steadfast in, faith. This is why the Qur’ān usually commands or prohibits some things after the address, “O you who believe!”; i.e., confession of belief requires obeying these commandments, which, in turn, causes them to be stronger and deeper.
The essentials of faith require and corroborate one another. The verse does not mention Divine Destiny as an article or essential of faith. This is because it is included in recognizing and believing in God with all His Qualities essential to Him as God, and His Attributes, Names and acts.
29. This last sentence, “and never will God allow the unbelievers to find a way (to triumph) over the (true) believers,” has several meanings and implications:
- In the Hereafter, the believers will be on the winning side, while the unbelievers will be complete losers.
- Islam has two wings on which the believers fly: one is God’s laws and decrees, that we call “Religion,” and the other is His laws of life and the creation and operation of the universe, which are the subject matter of (physical) sciences. As long as the believers obey these two kinds of God’s laws, victory will always be on their side. But if they fall behind the unbelievers in obeying the second kind of God’s laws and show neglect in obeying the former, the unbelievers can gain the upper hand over them.
- The unbelievers may, at times, gain the upper hand, but the final victory always belongs to the believers.
- Although the believers may sometimes be on the losing side, they are always, with respect to the truth of their beliefs, ideas, and spiritually, on the winning side. It is enough to see and prove this fact to look at a clear phenomenon during the past few hundred years: while unbelievers have enjoyed supremacy in political, economic, and military fields throughout the world, few individuals have left Islam to enter another religion, yet many from other religions have embraced it.
- This statement indicates a very important goal for the believers: they must never allow the unbelievers to gain advantage or find a way to triumph over them. If they fail, they will be accountable before God and have to bear the consequences of such a failure, both in this world and in the world to come.
30. While being ungrateful is a door to unbelief and even may be identical with it (in Arabic, both are derived from the same root), being thankful or grateful (shukr) is a door to faith and identical with it because of what follows:
The attitude of gratefulness to God consists of acknowledging that whatever good a person has and whatever achievement they have realized is purely from God. It also consists in acknowledging God’s benediction and blessings in their heart, confessing it in their speech, and manifesting it in their deeds. Their hearts should be overflowing with love for, and loyalty to, the Benefactor, and they should not attribute real creative effect to apparent causes in His benedictions reaching them. They should also use whatever God has granted to them in His way and according to His directives.
31. For the events mentioned here, see: 2: 51–55, 58, 61, 63–66, 79, 83, 84–88, 92–93.
32. There are conflicting views on Jesus’ departure from the world and the Prophetic Traditions about his return to the world before the Day of Resurrection. The following points may be closer to the truth in these two matters:
- Neither the Jews nor the Romans were able to kill or crucify Jesus, upon him be peace. According to some interpreters of the Qur’ān, one of his disciples, Judas, was likened to Jesus, upon him be peace, and substituted for him by God because of his betrayal. However, the late Muhammad Asad, a renowned Muslim convert from Judaism, regards the entire crucifixion as only a legend. According to him, “in the course of time, long after the time of Jesus, a legend somehow grew up (possibly under the then-powerful influence of Mithraistic beliefs) to the effect that Jesus had died on the cross in order to atone for the ‘original sin’ with which mankind is allegedly burdened; and this legend became so firmly established among the latter-day followers of Jesus that even his enemies, the Jews, began to believe it – albeit in a derogatory sense (for crucifixion was, in those times, a heinous form of the death-penalty, reserved for the lowest of criminals) (The Message of the Qur’ān, 134). Whether Asad is right or not, many of the doctrines found in modern Christianity, such as original sin, blood atonement and the Trinity, were essential to Mithraism, which was very widespread in Asia Minor in the years when Christianity began to spread there, and entered Rome long before Christianity did. What is a fact in this matter is that Jesus, upon him be peace, was neither killed nor crucified, but the matter became ambiguous to those who put forth such assertions.
- If we deal with verse 158 along with 3: 55, and as pointed out in footnote 10 regarding verse 3: 55, and mentioned by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi (The Letters, “the 1st Letter”), we can say on this matter of God’s raising Jesus to himself: Just as he came into the world in an unusual manner, so, too, did Jesus depart from the world in an unusual manner. He did not die as other people do, but God took him back with his spirit and body, which took on the form or changed into an “astral” body or energetic envelope. This can be analogous with the Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be God’s blessings and peace. However, while the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, returned to the world again to complete his mission, Jesus, upon him be peace, remained where he was taken.
- Among the greatest Messengers – Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, upon them be God’s peace – Noah and Moses, and Abraham and Jesus resemble one another in nature and character. While God’s Attributes of Majesty were more manifest than those of Grace in the former two due to their mission, with Abraham and Jesus, upon them be peace, it is the other way around. Noah and Moses, upon them be peace, were distinguished with their great sternness toward unbelievers, while Abraham and Jesus, upon them be peace, were better known for their affection and compassion. The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, due to the universality of his mission, combined both in a balanced degree, but according to time and conditions, sometimes majesty and sternness, and sometimes affection and compassion had priority. The circumstances before the end of time will make it imperative that Muslims be equipped more with affection, compassion, love, and inviting dialogue. Christianity will be purified of the doctrines that have filtered into it over time, and there will be a coming together between the Muslims and Christians against the onslaught of the trends of materialism and similar ideologies. This will enable God’s religion to triumph over atheism and materialism throughout the world. This is what several modern Muslim scholars understand from the Prophetic Traditions saying that Jesus, upon him be peace, will return to the world before the end of time and practice Islamic Law.
33. Abu’l-A‘lā al-Mawdūdī has the following note on this verse:
The ‘Psalms’ embodied in the Bible are not the Psalms of David. The Biblical version contains many ‘psalms’ by others and they are ascribed to their actual authors. The ‘psalms’ which the Bible does ascribe to David do indeed contain the characteristic luster of truth. The book called ‘Proverbs,’ attributed to Solomon, contains many assertions, and the last two chapters, in particular, are undoubtedly spurious. A great many of these proverbs, however, do have a ring of truth and authenticity. Another book of the Bible is ascribed to Job. Even though it contains many gems of wisdom, it is difficult to believe that the book attributed to Job could in fact be his. For the portrayal of Job’s character in that book is quite contrary to the wonderful patience for which he is applauded in the Qur’ān and for which he is praised in the beginning of the Book of Job itself. The Book of Job, quite contrary to the Qur’ānic portrayal of him, presents him as one who was so full of grievance and annoyance with God throughout the entire period of his tribulation that his companions had to try hard to convince him that God was not unjust.
In addition to these, the Bible contains seventeen other books of the Israelite Prophets. The greater part of these seem to be authentic. In Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos and certain other books, in particular, one often encounters whole sections which stir and move one’s soul. These sections, without doubt, have the luster of Divine Revelation. While going through them, one is struck by the vehemence of moral admonition, the powerful opposition to polytheism, the forceful exposition of monotheism, and the strong denunciation of the moral corruption of the Israelites which characterize them. One inevitably senses that these books, the orations of Jesus embodied in the Gospels, and the glorious Qur’ān are like springs which have arisen from one and the same Divine source (al-Mawdūdī, 2: 113–114, note 205).
34. As mentioned in 42: 51, Revelation occurs in three ways:
- God puts the meaning in the Prophet’s heart in a way that the Prophet knows with certainty that it is from God.
- God speaks to the Prophet without mediation, but without being seen and from behind a veil, as God spoke to Moses from a tree.
- God sends an angel who communicates God’s message to the Prophet. He always sent Gabriel to communicate His messages contained in His Books. (as–Salih, 22)
As mentioned in 2: 253, God exalted and distinguished some Prophets in some respects due to the mission of each, meaning that, with the exception of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who represented all aspects of Prophethood in the most perfect manner because of the universality of his mission, every Prophet is superior to others in one or more respects. The Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, was distinguished by being addressed by God in a particular way. But although being addressed by God in a particular way was a special favor, it is not the most superior way of Revelation. God sent His messages that form His Book through the angel Gabriel; therefore, the most superior way of Revelation is via Gabriel. It is for this reason that the Torah is not formed of God’s direct Revelations to Moses, upon him be peace.
35. God has two kinds of words, one issuing from His Attribute of Speech, the other from His Power. His words that issue from His Attribute of Speech are His Books and Scrolls that He sent to some of His Messengers. His words that issue from His Attribute of Power are all of His works – His creatures and all events in the universe. Why then does God mention Jesus, upon him be peace, especially as one of His Words (of His Power) is that God, due to His Grandeur and Honor, acts in this world from behind cause and effect. He does so because this world is the world of Wisdom, and some people, unable to discern the good behind every act of God, would otherwise ascribe to God the things displeasing to them, which could lead them to perish. God acts from behind the veil of cause and effect so that people can ascribe displeasing things, such as illnesses, death, and misfortunes, to their “natural” causes and not complain of God. But since the other world is the world of Power, God will act there without any veils; everything will happen there instantly. The creation of Jesus, upon him be peace, was different from that of other people, and God created him without a father. So, in Jesus, upon him be peace, His law of Power was manifested, rather than His law of Wisdom. Adam, upon him be peace, was also created without parents, but God did not call him His Word. Adam, upon him be peace, was the first to be created as a human being; but Jesus’ creation was completely unusual after so many centuries during which all people came to the world with both a father and mother.
The idea of Jesus, upon him be peace, being a spirit from God should also be considered from this viewpoint. Since he was a Word of God’s Power, in the meaning of being created not based on cause and effect, as all other people are, but rather by being breathed into Virgin Mary by or through an angel who is purely a spiritual being, the spiritual dimension weighs more in his creation. Why this was so for Jesus is that he came to spiritually revive the Children of Israel, who were drowning in materialism and who were selling God’s Revelations for trifling prices. So Jesus’ mission gave priority to the spiritual dimension of the Divine Religion. Unfortunately, most of his followers overstepped the bounds of truth in their religion in later years, and in their hands “the spirit from God” became “the spirit of God,” and “the spirit of holiness” with which he was confirmed (2: 87) was interpreted to mean God’s own Spirit which became incarnate in Jesus. Thus, along with God and Jesus, upon him be peace, there developed the third person of God – the Holy Ghost. The Qur’ān categorically refutes all such assertions.